The Ultimate List of What to Pack for Rehab

what to pack for rehab

The Ultimate List of What to Pack for Rehab

Entering drug rehab treatment center for the first time can be a daunting process that invokes feelings of nervousness about the unknown. Those entering a drug rehab program are embarking on a journey away from the life they have become accustomed to. This alone is often a difficult task, as one can see when someone goes away to school, joins the military, or starts a journey far from home and away from their friends, family, and the placed and people that are familiar to them.

Rehab has an extra level of difficulty, as the recovering addict must undergo a detox process, which is sometimes difficult, and then begin a life of sobriety. Battling the anxiousness that accompanies entering an inpatient treatment facility can be accomplished with facts that help alleviate any mysteries.

One such topic, which is frequently asked and is very practical in nature, is what to pack when entering an inpatient rehab facility. For those entering an inpatient program, packing the correct items will ensure that you have a comfortable stay. Inpatient treatment programs often last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, so packing the right items will guarantee that you are prepared to be comfortable for the long haul, and can devote your focus and energy towards your recovery. In this article, we’ll outline exactly what prospective patients should pack for treatment. In doing so, we hope that this information will help reduce some of the nervousness and anxiety that comes with entering a new phase in one’s life.  

Make a List

When packing for your rehab program, it is important to first make a list of the items you are going to be taking. Lists are an important organizational tool that is essential for packing.  They allow you to visualize and conceptualize what you are going to be taking, determine if you are over or under-packing and whittle down your choices to the things that will be essential to your stay. Lists also serve another important function; they allow you to structure the packing process in a way that will help reduce any feelings of unpreparedness.  

We encourage you to use this article as a guide for your list. Make a list that covers each important section, and check the items off once they are packed in your luggage. This will ensure that you aren’t forgetting anything, which can be stressful once you have already begun your journey to the facility. You probably won’t have time to dig through your luggage to ensure that an article of clothing or toiletry is there, so by making a list of the items you are packing and checking them off once they have been placed in your luggage, you will ensure that you have everything you need and verify that those items will be in your possession once you get to the treatment facility.

When making your list, add a section for items that may or may not be allowed. Once you have your complete list, contact the facility and use the list as a reference point to inquire whether the items in question should be packed. Once you have packed everything, it is a good idea to go over your list another time to ensure that you have everything for your stay that will allow you to be comfortable.


The first step in packing for an inpatient rehab facility is getting together the clothing you are going to take. If you have ever packed for a long trip, you know how difficult it can be to discern exactly what you should take. Many people tend to pack unnecessary items when they are going on a long trip, but this approach isn’t feasible for a rehab facility. Packing for rehab will require you to take only the essential items that will allow you to stay comfortable for your trip.

The first rule that you should keep in mind when packing your clothing is that you should pack enough items for 7 days. You will be able to do laundry in an inpatient facility, but you most likely won’t be doing laundry every day. 7 days of clothing will be enough to ensure that you don’t run out of clean clothes to wear if you are doing laundry once a week, which is generally what occurs in an inpatient rehab program. At the same time, 7 days of clothing will allow you to keep the total quantity of items packed to a reasonable level. For your clothing, we recommend you pack the following items:

  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • T-Shirts
  • Gym clothing or workout attire
  • Swimsuit
  • Sweatpants
  • Yoga pants
  • Underwear
  • Comfortable shoes

Let’s break down this list a little further, and explore some options and recommendations for clothing. Jeans are an ideal clothing choice because they can be worn multiple times between washing and are hardy, comfortable, and most people have a pair that they wear regularly. If you don’t have or don’t like to wear jeans, consider packing your favorite pair of pants.  

Shorts are a comfortable alternative to jeans that can be useful if your rehab facility is in a warm climate. Remember though that many rehab facilities have requirements for the minimum length of shorts. At HARP, the minimum length is below your fingertips. Other rehab facilities will have similar requirements, so be sure to check with the specific rehab facility you are going to in order to determine what their clothing requirements are.

T-Shirts are an obvious choice for both comfort and practicality. Make sure to bring enough T-Shirts to satisfy a week’s worth of clothing, but also be sure to not bring an excessive amount.  Many people use a T-Shirt as a pajama top, so having an extra T-Shirt or two won’t present a serious problem. For gym clothing, we recommend that patients bring two sets. This will cover you for workout activities and exercise classes. Many treatment facilities, including HARP, have a flexible treatment program for each individual patient. These treatment types frequently include classes that require some physical activity, so as to encourage and develop a healthy lifestyle that will continue after treatment.

For swimsuits, only one should be necessary. For treatment facilities that are in colder climates, a swimsuit might not be necessary. In such cases, be sure to check with your specific treatment facility to find out if a swimsuit is required. Sweatpants and yoga pants are up to your discretion, but bringing at least a pair of each is recommended. Comfortable pants that can serve as pajamas and also work in a relaxed fitness setting such as a yoga class are a great way to adapt one piece of clothing to two purposes. Also, it may seem obvious, but be sure to bring enough underwear and socks to last a full week. Bringing an extra set or two just in case is not a bad idea.

One other thing you may consider packing for rehab is a hoodie or jacket. This is particularly true if the rehab facility is in a colder climate, or you are susceptible to cold from air conditioning. Some people find a hoodie at night makes them more comfortable when they sleep, so be sure to think about your comfort and pack accordingly.

When packing clothes for rehab, it should be remembered that rehab is a place to detox and recover from a drug or alcohol addiction. The primary concern should be recovery. Rather than packing to make sure you keep up appearances, be sure to pack according to the clothes that you will be comfortable in. Avoid packing any excessively revealing clothing. Ensuring you are comfortable will enable you to totally focus on your recovery process, and place you in the right state of mind to learn the tools and skills you will need once you have completed your inpatient program.


Most inpatient facilities will require you to pack your own personal hygiene items to bring with you to rehab. This is actually ideal since you can use the same products that you are comfortable with. We recommend packing the following items:

  • Toothpaste and a toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo / Conditioner
  • Feminine products

With hygiene products, there are a few limitations that must be explored. The first is that none of the feminine hygiene products can contain any alcohol. At many treatment facilities, the same goes for mouthwash if you prefer to use it. The next issue is regarding whether you are flying or traveling to the treatment facility or just driving. If you are flying in, the Transportation Safety Administration rules require that any item that is placed in your Carry-On bag must be smaller than 100ml (3.4 ounces), and must be placed in a quart-sized bag. If, however, you would like to bring a full-sized bottle of shampoo and conditioner, you will need to place those in your checked bag.

Cell Phone

A big question that a lot of people have before entering rehab is whether or not they are allowed to bring their cell phone with them. Most treatment facilities will allow you to bring your cell phone, but you must understand that use of your phone will be limited.  

There will be limitations on when and where you can use your phone, and for how long you can be using it. The use of a cell phone in a treatment facility is a privilege, and that privilege is usually granted after consultation with your primary therapist. With that said, pack your cell phone and charging cable. Just don’t expect to be using your phone as much as you would be outside of the treatment facility.


Be sure to pack any prescription medications and bring them with you to rehab. Prescription medications should be in their original packaging and contain the prescription protocol given by your doctor. When packing your medications, place both the medication and the prescription protocols in a Ziploc bag in your luggage. These items will then be looked over and approved during your intake into the facility. During your stay in the inpatient facility, your medications will be renewed and refilled should they run out.


Many treatment facilities offer wireless internet on the premises, so generally, it is acceptable to bring your laptop with you to the facility. Similar to cell-phones, usage of your laptop will be determined by your primary therapist. Laptops are an excellent item to bring with you however, as they will allow you to connect with and send updates to you family and loved ones as usage permits.  

If packing your laptop, be sure to include your charging cable, as it is doubtful that you will have access to a spare should you forget it. Your family will appreciate updates, as they generally won’t have contact with you for the first 72 hours that you are in the facility. After that point, contact with your family will be regulated, so making the most of your time when you are capable is a great approach.

Payment Method

Since an inpatient facility is a monitored environment, you won’t be doing much shopping.  Your treatment facility should contact you with a payment authorization form prior your induction. On this form, you will have your credit card information that the rehab facility will use to pay for things such as medical co-pays and medications. It is recommended that you also load a prepaid card, such as Vista or American Express, to use for discretionary spending while you are in an inpatient treatment facility. Many facilities will have weekly shopping where they use this information for purchasing things such as snacks.




Treatment in a rehab facility is a journey that is largely tailored to your individual needs and preferences. Remember that these packing recommendations aren’t an exhaustive list, but rather merely a guide that should help aid you in your packing for rehab. If you have a specific item or clothing piece that isn’t on this list, contact your treatment facility to find out if that item or clothing is allowed.

The same is true if you are worried that you might be under or over-packing. The treatment center will be able to give you a general idea if you are bringing an excessive amount of clothes and items, or conversely if you’re not packing enough. Lastly, when packing, make sure to take into account the types of skills and workshops classes you will be taking part in, as these can require items not contained on our list.

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